Thursday, 25 April 2013

World's top copper mines

The Escondida copper-gold-silver mine is located in the northern Atacama Desert of Chile, 3,050m above sea level. The mine is a joint venture between BHP-Billiton (57.5%), Rio Tinto (30%), a Japanese consortium (10%) and the IFC (2.5%).
It came on-stream in late 1990 and its capacity is 230,000t/d.
Chuquicamata (Codelco Norte) is by excavated volume the biggest open pit copper mine in the world, located in the north of Chile, 215 km northeast of Antofagasta and 1,240 km north of Santiago. The mine is owned and operated by Codelco. At 850 meters (2,790ft) its the second deepest open-pit mine in the world (after Bingham Canyon Mine in Utah, USA).
The Grasberg Mine is the largest gold mine and the third largest copper mine in the world. It is located in the province of Papua in Indonesia and has 19,500 employees. It is majority owned through a subsidiary by Freeport-McMoRan.
The Collahuasi mine in Chile was commissioned in April 1999 at a cost of US$1.76bn. The mine is 44%-owned by Xstrata plc in joint venture with Anglo American (44%) and a Japanese consortium (12%). It has a long-term capacity of 500,000t/yr of copper.
The El Teniente mine in Chile is an underground copper mine located 2,300 m (7,500 ft) above sea level in the Andes.

Mining at El Teniente stared as early as 1819. It is "the world's biggest underground copper mine", and is the largest of Codelco's operations.


The Norilsk-Talnakh deposits in Russia are the largest nickel-copper-palladium deposits in the world. The Norilsk deposits were discovered during the 1920s, with nickel production starting during the Second World War. Underground mining began in the 1950s.
Reserve estimates show proven and probable ore reserves totalling 478.7Mt, containing 6.27Mt of nickel, 9.37Mt of copper, 62.2Moz of palladium and 16Moz of platinum. Reserves are reportedly sufficient to support 50 years' output at current rates.




Copper is believed to have been used first by Neolithic man as a substitute for stone around 8000 B.C. The science of metallurgy emerged when copper was heated and mold-casted into shapes in Egypt around 4000 B.C. In 3500 B.C., fire and charcoal were used to smelt ores, and copper was alloyed with tin to create bronze, giving rise to the Bronze Age.

The Romans obtained their copper from Cyprus. It was called aes Cyprium, which means "metal of Cyprus." This was shortened to cyprium. Later, cyprium was changed to coprum, and eventually became known in English as copper.